This report summarizes the findings of the focus group conducted at the Mount Sinai base camp following the new product rollout. Participants were asked their views in a casual atmosphere away from the encampment. Refreshments of large and small grain manna were provided.
The presentation format was evaluated as successful for seven tenth parts of respondents, who found the pillar of fire on the journey from Egypt to be “dramatic,” “attention-grabbing,” and “memorable.” Minority views noted that it was “irritating” and “smoky,” and a small number experienced adverse effects such as nightmares and upper respiratory symptoms.
Participants reported being generally very impressed with the new product. Respondents found the unity of God “innovative,” “simpler” and “more streamlined.” However, a significant minority were reluctant to give up benefits of existing religion products. Advantages cited relating to the availability of a larger selection of gods include more personalized service, novel and niche worship experiences, and access to a “Plan B” when initial imploring results in denial, lack of response, or a long wait time. Local gods are considered better informed when praying for directions. Some respondents prefer not to give up deities with whom they have longstanding family relationships
Particularly valued is access to dedicated gods for specialized tasks such as finding lost objects, conceiving male children, or needing to catch some fish. Concerns were voiced that a “generalist” would lack expertise or be overtaxed. A few eschew name brands and make use of the widely available and low-cost generic sun product. Several respondents, noting that in the existing system the numerous gods are “hard to keep track of,” “redundant,” and “always bickering,” indicated a preference for access to a more manageable group of worship objects, suggesting “a nice round number, like three.”
Ten Commandments Consumer Response
Interview data give evidence of initial enthusiasm for the introduction of the religion product in tablet form (“The Ten Commandments”). However, marketing momentum was slowed by the product spokesman’s actions upon observing consumers engaged in the use of a competitor’s product. While some found the smashing of the tablets to be an impactful stunt, others found it to be “childish” or “triggering.” Furthermore, numerous consumers reported enjoying the golden calf, finding it “fun,” “relatable,” and “sparkly.” Of these, a majority were “turned off” by the product spokesman’s “hard-sell.” Some appreciated the ban on idols as freeing them from frequent pressure to donate for the commissioning of statues which often “do not come out very well.” However, the follow-up slaughter campaign was panned by nine-tenth parts of respondents, with comments critical of the episode as “an overreaction,” “hypocritical,” “scary,” and “counterproductive.” These responses indicate the need to address inconsistencies in branding as well as significant weaknesses in customer service.
Reaction to the commandment package shows potential for staying power, with respondents demonstrating interest in long-term subscriptions and making brand recommendations from generation to generation. Crowdsourced outdoor promotion efforts include consumers inscribing product tag lines on the doorposts of their houses. Word of mouth promotion trends are strong with participants reporting talking about the product when they sit in their house, when they walk by the way, when they lie down, and when they rise up. These kitchen-table endorsements from influencers have the potential to generate a marketing whirlwind.
Six tenth parts of respondents appreciated God’s authoritative voice and valued the “structure” and “clarity” offered by the commandments. A subset went further, noting that God’s “dominant” persona “makes me feel chosen” or “gives me a frisson.” A significant minority, however, viewed the leadership style as “self-aggrandizing” and complained that “it’s all about Him.” This group found the divine persona “overblown” and “needing a lot of affirmation.” They indicated they would welcome a revamp offering “comic relief,” “moments of vulnerability,” or “a human touch.” Those averse to the “authoritarian overtones” offered alternative branding concepts for the Ten Commandments, preferring The Ten Suggestions, Affirmations, or Aspirational Meditations.
The group became animated in proposing modifications to the commandments product line. Alternative formats were offered, such as mandatory and optional lists, a column A /column B mix-and-match approach, a points system à la Weight Watchers “so we know how we’re doing,” or some indication of “the ones He is really serious about.” Users requested a help line, complaint department, or at least a regularly updated FAQ. Finally, requests to eliminate, edit, or include exceptions to specific commandments were too numerous to include in this summary. For a more detailed discussion of consumer commandment reviews, see Appendices I through X.
Image Credit: Surrealist painting by Constance de Cock (c. 1930s-40s)
Joanna Spiro’s fiction and essays have appeared in Mademoiselle, The Schocken Book of Contemporary Jewish Fiction, The Yale Journal of Criticism and American Imago. She is currently living in Brussels.